• Shared Concerns and Issues Emerging From the First Science and Democracy World Forum

  • Ζανίν Γκεσπίν-Μισέλ | 20 May 09
  • The following text is the initial result of the first Science and Democracy World Forum which took place at the WSF in Belém 2009. It initiates an open and inclusive global process that seeks to build an international network of movements, organisations and individuals concerned with issues of science and technology and other forms of knowledge in relation to societal and democratic concerns.

    Broad issues and concerns

    1. All knowledge, including science, is a common heritage of humankind. To increase human knowledge has been one of the most fundamental endeavours of humanity throughout history. 

    2. Knowledge and the methods of its production can result in emancipation and advancement of societal interests and/or domination and oppression. 

    3. We support regimes that ensure and promote common goods and other systems of rewarding innovation that are not premised on creation of monopolies over, or deriving profits from, knowledge. 

    4. Issues related to science and technology (S&T) form an important part of the overall economic, climate/ecological and democratic crisis that the world faces today as well as the crises related to energy use and production, food security, war and militarism. It is necessary to deepen our understanding of how issues related to S&T are part of these problems and are also part of the solutions. 

    5. It needs to be recognised that the values of scientific communities are shaped by, and rooted in, historical and cultural processes. The autonomy and social responsibility of researchers and the openness and universality of science need to be promoted while being sensitive to contemporary social and cultural diversities. 

    6. We recognise that diverse knowledge production regimes exist in different countries and at different levels, including scientific institutions and local communities. Historical contexts influence the political, cultural, educational and scientific developments in society, giving rise to a diversity in the production of both academic and traditional knowledge. A new kind of eco-knowledge is needed, which is sensitive to different knowledge-property regimes. In this context we support initiatives such as the Open Access Initiative for Scientific Reviews and Repertories of Scientific Self-Archiving. 

    7. Endeavours to promote informed involvement of citizens in decision-making processes on S&T policies at international, national and local levels must be strengthened. 

    8. There is a need to change the present situation in which the interests of the market, corporate profits, the consumer culture and military uses are the main drivers of research, technology and innovation. 

    9. We are committed to the principle that preservation of human life is a core value of scientific practice and hence call upon the S&T community not to engage in research that is put to military use. 

    10. There is a major need to promote social demand and empowerment of the people in order to exercise democratic control over policies of research and innovation. 

    11. Systems of collaborative, bottom-up and participatory research need to be promoted. 

    12. We aim to build an international network that seeks to underline the importance of S&T, while at the same time pursuing an approach that looks critically at some dangerous trends in S&T today regarding democratic and environmental issues and the dynamics of capitalist globalisation. 

    13. This open network should include both communities of scientists and engineers and diverse social movements. We will aim to establish a democratic dialogue and collaboration between scientific and social organisations.

    14. This network aims to strengthen movements that challenge the manner in which corporate, private, military, political and related state and other power interests seek to take over S&T, which impacts the ethical values and production of S&T knowledge.

    This text is addressed to 

    • scientists, engineers, academics, educators and experts and their institutions around the world; 
    • indigenous peoples, farmers’ organisations, trade unions, other social and political movements, NGOs, organisations and institutions with science and technology concerns 
    • all actors of the global, regional and local social forums 
    • international, regional, national and local public authorities, all over the world.

    Science, research, technologies and innovation are connected to broader and major issues regarding the future of our societies and environment. Therefore, we invite all of you to find concrete connections between your own agendas and political priorities and the content of this document.

    We invite all scientific and social organisations, actors of social forums and all citizens around the world to enlarge and strengthen this movement from now on and invite you to join in following activities: 

    January 2010: Science and Democracy regional forums 

    January 2011: Second Science and Democracy World Forum

    From now on, we invite all concerned people, all kind of organisations, movements and networks to organise public debates around the world in order to empower the majority of our respective societies and communities around these issues.


    The text has been written and ratified by citizens of eighteen countries in four continents.

    Belém-Brazil, February 1, 2009.